February 21 – Gospel Readthrough – Luke 5

Read Luke 5:1-39

Many years ago, as a student at Grace College, I heard a chapel speaker give a message on a section of our reading today. It made such an impact on me that I purchased a cassette recording of his message. (Yes, that dates my college years, I know.) I was in my care-free twenties then and didn’t fully appreciate its significance. But God’s words do not return empty, without accomplishing what He desires. And as the Message Bible says, they’ll complete the assignment He gave them. (Isaiah 55:11)

Years later, I’m learning my assignment. 

“Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

He was a stretcher bearer in WWII. His field assignment was to carry the stretcher, gather the wounded, and return them to safety. Risking his own life to save another, shrapnel lodged in his leg from a nearby explosion. He lived the rest of his life with the shrapnel, the scar and the memory of that day. My dad lived. Many of his buddies did not. 

“Two are better than one… for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

The sun was high and the battle raged on. He was tired of standing and his arms were heavy.  Moses did not have the strength to keep his hands raised so that the Israelites would prevail. But he had a friend and a brother who sacrificed their strength and supported him until the sun set and the battle was won. (Read Exodus 17:8-13) 

“And not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, right in the center, in front of Jesus.”

Luke 5:19

Have you ever really thought about this verse? Listen in on a possible conversation between the friends:

“Did anyone happen to bring a rope? questioned Levi. “Or a ladder?” he laughed.

“No. Why?” Jeremiah said puzzled. 

 “Well, I was thinking we could lower him down through the roof.” 

“What?! That’s crazy! What will people think?” exclaimed Jacob. 

“And I can’t imagine how much it will cost to fix the roof damage that would cause,” chimed in Joseph. 

“But that’s the only way we can get him to see Jesus unless someone else has a better idea.” Levi said with determination. 

So, they disregarded their reputation and sought out resources because the need for their friend to see Jesus was greater than what others thought and what it cost them. 

Stretcher bearer. Each of these stories exemplifies the meaning. Risking life, strength and reputation for the purpose of bringing a wounded, weary brother or friend to the healing, victorious life Jesus gives. Perhaps you have a paralyzed friend- paralyzed in fear or depression. What are you willing to risk to bring him to Jesus? It most likely will cost your time, strength and resources.

Whose stretcher are you bearing? 

Years have passed since those carefree college days. Like you, I’ve weathered many storms and there have been days I have felt paralyzed, lacking the strength to win the battle faith requires. I’m so grateful for my many stretcher bearers who have gently brought me to Jesus and lived out Galatians 6:2:

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”

Are we doing everything we can to bring others to The Stretcher Bearer, Jesus? After all, Philippians 2 clearly tells us to model the attitude of Christ. He made Himself of no reputation, took the form of a servant and gave His life on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8) Isn’t that the true definition of being a stretcher bearer? Jesus bears our burden and carries our stretcher; let’s follow His example and be stretcher bearers for the hurting!

Charline Engle

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